About 200 rank-and-file police officers and firefighters in Aurora, Co., carried protest signs, cursed city management, and crowded city hall steps yesterday to criticize forced furloughs, says the Denver Post. The city of Aurora has required each of its 600 police officers and 250 firefighters to take three days of unpaid leave before year’s end. Aurora is trying to cut $11 million to balance its 2005 budget. Sluggish sales-tax revenues and increased spending have put the city in a financial bind. Emergency workers blame poor financial planning.
Police and firefighter unions say citizens are at risk because of the cutbacks. “The management of this city has decided you can do with fewer police officers and fewer firemen,” said Don James, president of the Aurora Police Association. “I pray to God that no innocent citizens or members of the Aurora Police Department or Aurora Fire Department are injured because of short staffing.” City Manager Ron Miller said public safety is the city’s top priority and no one is at risk.